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Gov’t willing to subsidize ferries, promises more reliable vessels by November 1

BVI News Online - Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Minister responsible for transport Mark Vanterpool yesterday announced that commuters will have access to ‘more reliable ferry boats’ by November 1 of this year, adding that the government is willing to subsidize the privately owned ferry service.

The announcement comes just over a week after Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith promised to intervene if there is no significant improvement on the troubled route between Tortola in the BVI and St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

Speaking with journalists yesterday, Vanterpool said: “We are guaranteeing you that – come November 1 – we will have much more reliable service and much better equipment in terms of boats available to run between BVI and St. Thomas.”

The minister, who noted that negotiations are ongoing with the ferry operators, said he could not be more specific regarding what is meant by ‘more reliable ferry boats’.

He however stated that plans are afoot to have leased ferries added to the fleet. “There will be leased boats in the coming season like there been before by one operator, and we are supporting that move in the short term.”

Vanterpool further announced that the government does not intend to become actively involved in the operation of ferries, but would be willing to offer a subsidy if necessary.

“As to whether the government will make an investment in it (the ferry service), I can’t give an answer on that right now, but I know the government is prepared to subsidize the activity of the ferry boat operations as we have done on the Anegada route, and as we have done in the past with the St. Thomas route,” Vanterpool said.

Premier Smith has consistently denied claims that his government is involved in contract splitting

“We want to make sure that we have the ferry boat service up to the level we are looking for and we have to do any subsidization – hopefully none. But, if we have to, we will be looking at that very closely.”

No new ferry company

Possibly good news for the current ferry operators, Vanterpool emphatically stated that the government will not allow any other ferry company to operate in the territory at this time.

He said: “Let me make it very clear that, contrary to reports that we have heard, Government is not – and I stress – Government is not bringing in another ferry company to operate in the territory. We are not doing so at all and we have no intention.”

The minister further declared that the National Democratic Party government is willing to work with the ferry operators, adding that the administration understands the challenges associated with the service.

“It’s not an easy business – very high capital intensive business. And we recognize the struggle they are making in trying to improve the service,” he said.

“We do not intend and have no wish to destroy their business. We want to find every way possible to help them to augment their business, and we are working very closely with them on that.”

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20 Comments

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  1. BuzzBvi
    July 27, 2013
    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    Get rid of the people who can not run the ferries and bring on some fresh, hungry, excited interested, inventive and customer oriented people who care about the BVI.
    Be courageous and tell your powerful families and friends that the free ride is over the country needs something better.
    No we are going to use Government money to give new ferries to failed organisations.
    Ever backward the BVI.

    Reply to this comment
  2. WINDY
    July 25, 2013
    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    SET UP SOME REQUIREMENTS TO KEEP THEIR BUSINESS LICENSE. LIKE STICK TO A POSTED SCHEDULE !

    Reply to this comment
  3. Politricks I say
    July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    I wonder which Politician bringing in a boat or will have an interest in the ferry service.

    Reply to this comment
    • .
      July 24, 2013
      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      check to see which politician’s son does blow a sax

      Reply to this comment
  4. No Faith
    July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    I really have no faith in someone who cannot even ‘manage properly’ their own business (supermarket) and here on the Treasury spending like there is no end in sight. 8-O

    Reply to this comment
  5. Eagle and Buffalo
    July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

    Undoubtedly, ferry service is a vital transportation mode for moving people and cargo around the VI, especially between the USVI and VI. However, ferry service appears to have fallen on hard times and the hard economic times are being reflected in poor service. The stubborn economy is but one contributing factor for the poor service. Other factors include too many seats but too few passengers, rising operating cost, ineffective scheduling, poor management….etc.

    Consequently, to address and improve the ferry service requires a clear strategy. But the message being currently promulgated by government is as clear as mud. Government is not getting into the ferry biz. Yet the following: “……more reliable ferry boats by November 1 of this year”, “as to whether the government will make an investment in it(ferry service), I cannot give an answer on that right now……….”.

    Moreover, I’m not averse to bailing out the ferries. However, subsidies must be tied to specific terms and conditions, performance standards and benchmarks, expenditure on ferry related operations, agreement on performance audits, agreement to come to the table to discuss mergers and acquisitions; to discuss scheduling; and to review overall operations….etc.

    Further , sometimes in addressing an issue it is worthwhile to look worldwide for answers; think global but act local. St. Martin—Anguilla has similar commerce arrangements to St. Thomas—VI. Like St. Thomas—VI, Anguilla—St. Martin has a similar ferry service. And this ferry service seems to be operating effectively. Perhaps a small cadre of folks can journey to our sister OT to review how they do things.

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  6. THE OBSERVER
    July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    The way Mark speaks one could only wonder if we are living in two different worlds. He speaks as though mony is no object, the reserve funds can satisfy all our needs. Yes, we must do something to up grade the ferry service but Hello!! there is a reason why $10 million dollars worth of cheques remain unpaid at the Treasury. Trust me, sooner than later the UK will have to send a representative to sit in the Ministry of Finance to take control of our financial affairs, for it is crystal clear that no one is in charge in that Ministry.

    Reply to this comment
  7. ???
    July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    ayo sure it aint the action man’s relative who is bringing in those ferries?

    Reply to this comment
  8. wow
    July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    I NEED A SUBSIDY TOO!! WE HAVE SPOILED THESE FERRY COMPANIES WHO HAVE NO CLUE HOW TO RUN THESE BUSINESSES.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Pretty
    July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    Why would government give those losers tax payers money. Do they usually give back to the community???

    Reply to this comment
  10. Buff-baff
    July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

    It is unfortunate that people who have been in a particular business for decades still can’t manage their businesses profitably! Should the tax payer become a prop for those businesses? I don’t think so. There is an old Chinese proverb that states “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. It sounds like the government plans to give out “fishes” here. The United States government bailout of the auto industry by President Obama could be a fitting model here. Let the government bail them out with a LOAN, and stipulate that they REPAY the LOAN after restructuring and implementing cost-cutting measures. The US auto industry is now healthy and the people got back their hard earned, sacrificial dollars. A similar sustainable plan like this I can be in support of!

    Reply to this comment
    • Good Book
      July 24, 2013
      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

      Good Idea, but there needs to b a mechanism to imprison them if the company goes bankrupt or is unable to pay :mrgreen:

      Reply to this comment
  11. Phil
    July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

    I agree that Speedy’s Ferry should be given the contract. The rest of them are Jokes. I will give Road Town Ferry a pass but Speedy’s is the best.

    Reply to this comment
  12. notsurprised
    July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    The service from Tortola to St. Thomas sucks and is unreliable and the one to Anegada is even worse. Three days a week is not enough! At least give the people a chance to leave the island on Saturdays to Tortola, or VG or St. Thomas. People who have to work during the week need to be able to go away for the day on Saturdays (Sundays are useless since most businesses including even restaurants on Tortola are closed)and people from elsewhere would also use the opportunity to come to Anegada on that day…. please think about adding that day to the program, even if it is every other Saturday to start with instead of every SATURDAY

    Reply to this comment
  13. July 24, 2013
    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    What a thing!

    Reply to this comment
  14. July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

    Give Speedy the main contract and subsidy- he has proved he is the number one – followed by RTFF- and let the rest of them get diesel at cost price- one of the services is so bad it should be shut down- period- guess which?

    Reply to this comment
  15. pretty
    July 24, 2013
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    Why should gov subsidies instead of giving them some lesson in business management

    Reply to this comment
    • LOL
      July 24, 2013
      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

      Better they buy them out or bring in an overseas company. Cant continue throw cash at losses

      Reply to this comment
      • LOCAL
        July 24, 2013
        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

        No, once you are LOCAL you should not face competition from outside. Even if you are a loser, the government still spend on you and then tax expats. That’s what gonna happen.

        Reply to this comment
        • .
          July 24, 2013
          Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

          Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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